Dine near the park

Outdoor dining is back for the spring season at Ralph’s on the Park, where New Orleans native chef Chip Flanagan draws from international tastes to put a spin on local cuisine. Diners can experience array of seafood specials while taking in a panoramic view of City Park. The City Park Salad or the Disgruntled Shrimp (tempura shrimp teriyaki with a spicy chili garlic crème fraiche) are great starters to the Wednesday-Friday lunch featuring the Louisiana Seafood Crepe and the Seared Yellowfin Tuna Salad.

The restaurant has recently launched its “Happy Hour After Hours,” which takes place Tuesday through Thursday evenings. Unwind at the bar with a $5 specialty cocktail, wine or call-brand liquor while listening to the melodies of Joe Krown on the piano. Complimentary bar snacks and small plates – at small prices – are available as well.

The  Sunday  Bubbles and Brunch menu, features mimosas, turtle soup, a choice between barbecue Gulf shrimp and grits or braised lamb and, for dessert, bourbon-soaked banana fritters.

Information, 488-1000, 900 City Park Ave., ralphsonthepark.com.

Upscale and casual

Austin’s in Metairie provides an upscale dining experience with a casual atmosphere. Meals typically start with the signature Crabmeat Austin appetizer: jumbo lump crabmeat is placed across shaved iceberg lettuce and asparagus and drizzled with a honey Dijon remoulade. The homemade turtle soup and bacon bleu cheese wedge are also customer favorites. Next step, is a classic steak grilled to liking and served on a sizzling plate. And for dessert, fresh berries and cream are popular. Austin’s also has an extensive wine list for all the sommeliers.

Austin’s is open for dinner Monday through Saturday and accepts reservations. A live pianist entertains diners Friday and Saturday night. Private banquet rooms for luncheons and dinners are also available. 

Information, Austin’s, 5101 W. Esplanade Ave., 888-5533, www.austinsno.com.

– Samantha Hyde

Prudhomme’s seasonings greetings

After years of making little batches of seasoning for inquiring customers, in 1983 Chef Paul Prudhomme decided to bottle his secret for the masses. The original seven blends – Poultry Magic, Blackened Redfish Magic, Pork & Veal Magic, Seafood Magic, Meat Magic, Blackened Steak Magic and Vegetable Magic – are still produced, and now the company offers a total of 18 dry seasoning blends, four marinades, seven chiles and an original pepper sauce to purchase in groceries in all 50 states and more than 25 countries worldwide or directly through the website.

Three full-time research and development chefs are on hand in a 125,000-square-foot production building continuing to develop and perfect new and old favorites. None of the seasonings contain MSG or preservatives, most are gluten free – expect for the Breading Magic and Gumbo Gravy Magic – and all are Kosher approved. The website offers more than 100 of Chef Paul’s original recipes to use with the Blends products. Remember, “Life’s to short for Dull Food™”.

Information, 731-33590, www.chefpaul.com.

– Samantha Hyde

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